How RT distorts reality to portray Russia as a victim of Western aggression
For several hours I watched the channel and was struck by the brazenness with which its hosts and personalities worked to deceive its audience and distract them from the issues at hand. The main thrust of RT’s coverage presented Russia as a mere victim of Western aggression, a country forced to launch a limited “military operation” after its hand was forced by a high and mighty NATO that failed to showed no interest in taking Moscow’s security concerns seriously.
Here is a breakdown of what I observed on the network.
Peter John Lavelle, the host of RT’s flagship show “Crosstalk”, put it this way: He said the failure of the “liberal order” put in place by the West was to blame. “It’s so irritating,” Lavelle said on her show. “The way it’s presented: Ukrainian democracy. Well, it has nothing to do with Ukrainian democracy – if you can say it even has one… It’s a matter of security. .There is security only for other countries.”
In its news programs throughout the day, RT’s on-screen graphics carried breaking news alerts supporting this notion: “RUSSIA: NATIONAL SECURITY THREATS LEAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO START A MILITARY OPERATION.” Another chyron said: “RUSSIA SAYS ITS OBJECTIVES IN UKRAINE TO DEMILITARIZE AND DENAZIFY THE COUNTRY.
In fact, according to RT, Russia wasn’t even necessarily the aggressor. The channel has sometimes said that Russia is a “liberator”, essentially freeing people from menacing forces in Kyiv. “THE MILITIA SAYS 40 TOWNS AND VILLAGES ARE NOW LIBERATED IN ON-GOING OFFENSIVE,” a chyron said.
A packet broadcast repeatedly by the network described life under Ukraine as unbearable for those living in the Lugansk region. In another package, RT focused on damage to residential buildings in the Donetsk region.
Missing from cover
>> Also excluded from RT’s coverage: the consequences of sanctions and other actions by the West on the Russian economy.
Other areas of interest
While RT has turned a blind eye to inconvenient facts, it has found time to paint Russians who aren’t even in the war zone as victims. One segment focused on how the Russians are “dealing with hostility in Western countries” over the “situation” in Ukraine. He quoted a man in the UK who said he was ‘not ashamed’ to say he was Russian, but ‘afraid’ and ‘worried that society has this perception that all Russians are bad’ .
At other times, RT aimed to portray Russia as a country that cares deeply about humanitarian issues. The network aired a story about how Russia took in school children displaced by the war: “RUSSIAN SCHOOLS WELCOME HUNDREDS OF SCHOOLCHILDREN FROM DONBASS.” Against the backdrop of uplifting music, the segment featured interviews with several children expressing how grateful they were and saying that Russia was ready to welcome many more children.
RT is suffocated by public discourse now that Russia has invaded Ukraine and its role in promoting the Kremlin’s dishonest arguments has been exposed. But the media’s propaganda has been broadcast across the world unfettered for years and years, coloring the minds of countless people, many of whom distrust Western news outlets. It’s a shame that it takes a war for companies to realize that the programming they bring into homes is important. Russia’s real-world war started last week, but it’s the information war that started long before that. Imagine if these companies had acted earlier how things might have been different.